Stanya Kahn with Llyn Foulkes, Happy Song For You, 2011 (still). HD video, color, sound, 5:07 min. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
Stanya Kahn is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in video, with a practice that includes performance, writing, sound design, drawing, animation, and digital media. Kahn’s hybrid practice borrows from pop vernacular, documentary tropes, improvisation, comedy, and experimental film and video. In 2011, she made Happy Song for You in collaboration with Llyn Foulkes, which demonstrates their shared preoccupations, including appropriations of popular culture, the uses of humor and violence, explorations of the grotesque and the uncanny, interactions between images and museum, among many other things. The video, had its New York premiere at the New Museum, features an original song written and performed by Foulkes, and the carefully crafted soundtrack is a signature element of Kahn’s work. This conversation between Kahn and New Museum Assistant Curator, Margot Norton, considers Foulkes’s work through Kahn’s own practice and their artistic dialogue.
Kahn’s hybrid media practice reworks relationships between fiction and document, the uncanny and the hyperreal, narrative time and the synchronic time of impulse. Words, actions, geographies, and relations inhabit moving pictures, drawings, and texts seeking out spaces for agency, power, affect, and meaning. Informed by an extensive background in live performance, Kahn’s work embodies a keen awareness of the body and of artist/audience relationships, drawing on devices of improvisation, comedy, dance, theater, and pop vernaculars to drive forward its deeper structures based in literary, cinematic, and musical practices.
Stanya Kahn (b. 1968) lives and works in Los Angeles. In addition to numerous group exhibitions, recent solo shows include the New Museum in New York, Pigna Projectspace in Rome, and Cornerhouse in Manchester (a survey of her solo works from 2008 to 2012) with an accompanying book. Kahn is a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow in Film/Video. In addition to her solo work, she has been in collaborative teams with artist Harry Dodge and with the performance company CORE. Her solo and collaborative works have shown in numerous venues nationally and internationally, including the Whitney Biennial (2008); the California Biennial (2010); MoMA, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Getty Center, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Sundance Film Festival; Migrating Forms Film Festival; the Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; MoMA P.S.1, New York; Contemporary Center for Art, Vilnius, Lithuania; MIT, Cambridge, MA; Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Kunsthalle, Bonn; Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Hayward Gallery, London; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles; and Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, among many others.